Your best employees may not be getting the fair treatment they deserve in the workplace. Here’s why you need to start doing something about it now.
A recent if they didn’t feel like they were getting anywhere in their jobs also delved into a heavier topic that’s on everyone’s minds these days: workplace discrimination.
With infractions that range from stating or suggesting preferred candidates in a job advertisement to excluding potential employees during recruitment to denying certain employees compensation or benefits (among others), employers can—either willfully or unwilfully—be in the position of violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
53% Feel Discriminated Against
According to CareerAddict, some disconcerting realities around discrimination exist in today’s workplace, where 53% of 1,000 survey respondents say they felt discriminated against by their superior (61% of those survey takers were women). Meanwhile, one in four people said they felt discriminated against because of their gender (76% were women).
Stavros Triseliotis, CareerAddict’s communications and research specialist, says the company was surprised by the high percentage of employees who feel discriminated against. “It’s true; more than 50% of our respondents felt discriminated against by their bosses and colleagues,” Triseliotis says. “We also found that women are much more likely to experience discrimination, especially due to their gender.”
Even with relevant legislation and company policies aimed at preventing discrimination in the workplace, Triseliotis says, “it’s still a reality in the modern workplace, and also completely unacceptable.” He sees sensitivity workshops (i.e., emotional training focused on helping people understand their judgments and prejudices, and become more sensitive to the needs of others) as a good starting point for distributors that want to reduce instances of workplace discrimination within their four walls.
“Sensitivity workshops have been proven as an effective way to change perceptions and tackle such behaviors,” says Triseliotis, who adds that managers should consider educating their staff not just about the severe consequences of discrimination, but also about the importance of diversity and cultural sensitivity.
Not Easy to Detect or Mitigate
A societal issue that expands beyond the workplace, discrimination isn’t always easy to detect or mitigate. “A lot of people are just blind to it,” says Howard M. Shore, a speaker, author, and founder of Activate Group. He points to the Black Lives Matter and the MeToo movement as proof of this point, noting that these movements were eye-opening for many Americans. Even so, he says many employers remain in denial of any discrimination that may be going on under their roofs.
A better approach, says Shore, is to recognize the problem and create dialogue around issues like unequal pay and the treatment of workers based on their gender, ethnicity, religion, and other factors that shouldn’t matter during the hiring, training, and employment process. Look at how people are treated, whether managers are “playing favorites” with any specific employees, and whether women are being excluded from certain conversations or activities.
Digging down a bit deeper, Shore also tells distributors to watch out for any blind prejudices that may have been sewn into the company’s fabric over years or even decades. For example, if the consensus is that it takes a man to do a good job out in the warehouse—heavy lifting and industry competency are “required”—then the company could unknowingly be eliminating 50% (give or take) of the U.S. workforce from its candidate pool.
Salaries are a Good Starting Point
According to HR Strategist Ed Krow, pay equity is a good place for electrical distributors to start leveling the playing field and making people feel like they’re being treated as equals. “The bottom line is that if we’re working side-by-side, and if we bring the same skill set, experience levels, and effort to the job, there’s zero reason for us to be earning differing amounts of money,” says Krow.
“Yet, that’s what I see when I’m working with organizations, where someone who isn’t earning as much as the person next to him or her is going to feel discriminated against,” Krow continues. “That’s a very valid feeling, and an almost cancerous view in the workplace.”
Next, educate yourself on issues like: Who is leaving our organization? Who is succeeding in our organization? Who are we drawing into our organization? Start to look for patterns in this data, says Krow. For example, if more women are quitting than men, then you may have a discrimination issue on your hands. “It says a lot if the numbers show that women aren’t assimilating into the environment that you’ve prepared for your workers,” he says.
Do Something About It
Regardless of how your distributorship decides to address any discrimination issues, any step in the right direction is one that can help your company avoid ill will, complaints, lawsuits, and other costly issues.
“All it takes is one complaint from an employee about pay and equity to a federal agency and you’re going to be writing some pretty big checks to cover fines and legal fees,” Krow warns. “So even if you’re not concerned about ‘doing the right thing,’ the fiscally smart thing is to make sure that you have the processes in place to recognize and stop discrimination before it ever gets to that level.”
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